ADDRESS BY HON. MOSES JN BAPTISTE, MINISTER FOR HEALTH.
As we continue to manage with this COVID-19 pandemic, the Government of Saint Lucia recognizes the efforts of all who are adhering to the COVID-19 protocols. We acknowledge the sacrifices that everyone has had to make over the last few weeks to prioritize health and safety. We acknowledge the difficult economic situation we have had to manage as we reduce the negative impact of Covid-19.
The Ministry of Health, Wellness and Elderly Affairs closely monitors the progress of the fourth wave in-country. From July 25, 2021 to October 10, 2021 we noted 6,475 cases at an average of 84 cases per day. 50% are in the age group 25-49years. 57% of the cases are female. The majority of the cases are from Castries, Gros- Islet, Vieux-Fort and Babboneau. The daily infection rate for the past week was 22.1 per 100,000 per day which is a 68% decrease from the previous week. We also note a steady decline in the rate of transmission.
Sadly, during that period we note 133 COVID-19 deaths with a case fatality rate of 2.1%. Males account for 56% of the deaths. The average age of the deaths is 66 years. At present we have 723 active cases in -country. I wish to express my sincere condolences to all families affected during this difficult time.
At this time, we note reductions in the transmission rate, hospitalization rates, positivity rates, prevalence rates which forecasts resolution in November, 2021 if public health measures are maintained by the general public.
We continue to prioritize the immunization program in St. Lucia and we note an increase uptake over the last few weeks. 20% of the population is fully vaccinated and 26% has received one dose. A total of 48,222 persons receiving first dose of vaccines and 36,575 second dose of vaccines to date of both the Astra Zeneca and Pfizer.
At this stage, we note the overall reduction in transmission rate but we are still at a critical phase and we cannot let our guard down. After discussions and dialogue with the members of the COVID-19 Management Center, the decision was made to extend the COVID-19 protocols currently in place until the end of October. The extended protocols shall commence on Saturday October 16, 2021 and end on Thursday, October 30, 2021.
The COVID-19 protocols are as follows:
1. Confinement to Residence on weekends will be in effect Monday to Friday from 7pm and ends at 4am; Saturday confinement starts at 7pm and ends on Monday at 4am. This means that there will be a 24-hour confinement on Sundays.
2. A person may attend a religious ceremony on Sundays during confinement but must return to his or her residence by 1pm on that day.
3. A person shall not host or attend a mass crowd event, social event except with 10 or less persons of his or her immediate family or household.
4. Religious Ceremonies are allowed based on the square footage of the organization in keeping with approved COVID-19 response plan. Special Religious rites including weddings, baptisms and funerals are permitted with 50 or less persons.
5. Suspension of the sale and disposal of intoxicating liquor at bars, rum shops and grab and go restaurants.
6. Sale and disposal of intoxicating liquor from a supermarket, gas station or wholesaler and approved dine in service restaurants with a valid liquor license will be permitted.
7. Dine-in services at approved restaurants and food establishments only. Take away (grab and go) and delivery services will be permitted at other establishments.
8. Recreational/social activities at hotels will be permitted on property during curfew hours, provided that such activities take place on property. Water sports and other water related activities such boat rides, skiing etc. must be suspended during the 24hour weekend curfew (from Saturday 7:00 pm to Monday 4:00 am).
9. An educational institution may open for face to face engagement to facilitate structured supervision from October 18, 2021 for Grade K, Grade 6, Form 4, Form 5 and Special Education Schools. The Ministry of Education, Sustainable Development, Innovation, Science, Technology and Vocational Training will communicate the confirmed dates to the public. All other classes shall continue to use distributed learning.
During this period, the Government of Saint Lucia will meet with stakeholders and the newly reconstituted COVID-19 Management Center to review the COVID-19 situation and provide a further update on the protocols. Let us all continue adhering to the protocols to reduce transmission of the COVID-19 virus and return to some level of normalcy.